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Smoke-free restaurant law effective on Dec. 1

Just a few days remain until a new Virginia law restricting smoking in restaurants goes into effect.

Starting December 1, smoking will be prohibited in restaurants, with some exceptions. Smokers and proprietors who violate the law will face civil penalties of $25.

More than 70 % of full-service and fast-food restaurants in the state already are non-smoking, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Public-health officials and some business groups say they expect to see that percentage rise significantly once the new law is effective.

The law, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine earlier this year, provides some exceptions. For example, private clubs such as fraternal organizations are exempt. Restaurants also may allow smoking in rooms that are separately enclosed and separately vented from non-smoking areas. Smoking may be permitted in outdoor areas of restaurants that are not enclosed.

posted 11.29.2009

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